Hallmarks FAQs

Click on any of the headings below to open an accordion: 

What is the Hallmarks Program?

The Hallmarks Program is Jefferson’s innovative strategy for delivering meaningful general education for its pre-professional undergraduate students. The Hallmarks Program has 3 components: a set of 8 vital learning goals, a 40-credit core curriculum (the Hallmarks Core), and the Hallmarks Pathway, a process for tracking and documenting your achievement of the learning goals as you move through your Jefferson education. 

What is the purpose of the Hallmarks Program?

Our value proposition for general education identifies a set of key capabilities, or “power skills,” that we consider vital for your professional and personal success. The Hallmarks Program translates these capabilities into learning goals that we help you fulfill in your major, in the Hallmarks Core, and in your co-curricular activities. The Hallmarks Program is a strategy to keep everyone at Jefferson focused on delivering learning experiences that advance these eight learning goals, and to help you track your own progress towards them.

What are the Hallmark Learning Goals?

The Hallmarks learning goals were developed from our original value proposition for general education. Each of the four capabilities in the value proposition is based on two qualities that we are helping you develop. The resulting eight learning goals define what you will be able to do once you have developed these qualities:

RIGOROUS INQUIRY: Create strategies for expanding knowledge through reflection and research.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS: Challenge concepts, practices and experts with reasoning and evidence.

CONTEXTUAL COMMUNICATION: Develop and share insights using appropriate means of expression.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Navigate diverse environments and complex issues by managing multiple systems of knowledge and behavior.   

INTERCULTURAL INSIGHT: Consider multiple perspectives in order to relate to others and strengthen communities.

COLLABORATIVE CREATION: Achieve goals by integrating skills and knowledge in a team setting.  

INTELLECTUAL RISK-TAKING: Take creative and intellectual risks when exploring ideas and real-world problems.

ETHICAL REFLECTION: Affirm an ethical compass to guide personal, civic and professional life.

Why these eight learning goals? How were they selected?

In 2011, Philadelphia University (now Jefferson) embarked on an initiative to reform general education. University professors, administrators, staff, and students gathered together to brainstorm about the value of general education and the skills and competencies all graduates of the university should share. In other words, they came together to discern what learning goals all graduates should meet. The diverse collaborators drew on white boards, wrote notes and ideas, and discussed the importance of general education with each other in order to develop a set of learning goals reflective of all of their values.

As a major part of the process of establishing values and goals in common, the reformers collected lists of the requirements that our different professional programs on campus must fulfill in order to earn national accreditation. Some of these requirements included technical skills, but some of them involved broader skills and knowledge. With the help of faculty from across the colleges, they identified a set of competencies required by majors in all of the fields at Jefferson, fields as different as architecture, occupational therapy, and engineering. 

According to Tom Schrand, Associate Dean for General Education, the process of identifying and describing learning goals that reflect the values maintained by both general education and profession-specific curricula “reassured our general education faculty that there were common learning outcomes that spanned both the professional majors and the core curriculum, and it convinced faculty and program directors in the majors that these outcomes were essential to their curricula, suggesting that a coordinated approach to them, in partnership with the core curriculum, would be an effective way to prepare their students and satisfy their accreditors.”

For more, read Dr. Schrand’s reflective article on the process of developing the learning goals: Schrand, Tom. “Design Thinking as a Strategy for Consensus in General Education Reform.” Peer Review 18, no. 3 (Summer 2016).

What is the Hallmarks Core?

The Hallmarks Core is our general education core curriculum, a carefully designed sequence of courses that all Jefferson students complete, no matter which major they choose. These 14 courses add up to 40 credit hours, or about a third of your education, as required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This curriculum guides you progressively through your education in the eight Hallmarks learning goals and also provides support for the completion of your Hallmarks Pathway. 

What is the difference between the Hallmarks Program and the Hallmarks Core?

The Hallmarks Core is one of the 3 components of the broader Hallmark Program for General Education. The other two components are the 8 learning goals that you are mastering across your educational experiences at Jefferson, and the Hallmarks Pathway process, which helps you document that mastery. 

What is a reflective essay?

When you are uploading an artifact into the Hallmarks Pathway, you will see a text box on the upload page where you can post a short essay to accompany your artifact. Each of your artifacts should be accompanied by a reflective essay, a short piece of writing (about 250 or 300 words - one typed page) that explains what the artifact is, and why you chose to post it in the Hallmarks Pathway as evidence of your progress towards the selected Hallmarks goal. You can read about the characteristics of each goal on the Hallmarks Pathway & Learning Goals page, and your reflective essay should discuss how your work on that artifact matches the description of that goal.

What are touchstone courses?

The Hallmarks Core includes four touchstone courses, one in each year of the curriculum. In addition to their normal general education content, these courses also devote some time during the semester to reviewing, evaluating, and advancing your progress in the Hallmarks Pathway process. The amount of time and the percentage of your final grade in these classes devoted to the Hallmarks Pathway process will increase each year as you add more items and then complete the Hallmarks Pathway in the final touchstone course, “Philosophies of the Good Life.” 

What is the Hallmarks Pathway?

The Hallmarks Pathway is a digital collection of “artifacts,” which are samples of work and learning that you have done during your time at Jefferson that show your fulfillment of the eight Hallmarks learning goals. These artifacts might be papers that you have written, projects that you have completed, designs that you have created, or even narratives of experiences such as study abroad or internships. Each artifact is accompanied by a short reflective essay that explains why you chose it and how it addresses Hallmarks learning goal that you have linked it to.

What is the purpose of the Hallmarks Pathway?

The Hallmarks Pathway is part of our strategy for “intentional” learning, to give you a greater awareness of the goals of our curriculum and of the skills and knowledge that you are mastering. By collecting and reflecting on your artifacts, you tell the story of your learning at Jefferson, a process that will make it easier to identify and communicate your learning and competencies to others, including potential employers. The Hallmarks Pathway also serves as a tool for the university’s curriculum assessment. By identifying its learning goals and tracking student achievement of these, the university holds itself accountable and tracks its success in helping students meet these goals.

Why “intentional” learning?

The Hallmarks Pathway serves as a learning portfolio, which is an excellent learning resource for instructors, institutions, and students. Instructors can use learning portfolios like the Hallmarks Pathway to see how their course fits into the larger institutional curriculum and gain insight into what students find most meaningful, memorable, and valuable in the work they do in their courses. Institutions can use portfolios for the purposes of curriculum and learning assessment, or to see how well student learning matches up to course-specific and programmatic learning goals.

Extensive educational research also suggests that portfolios provide significant benefits to the students who curate them. According to research published in the periodical Peer Review by Ross Miller and Wende Morgaine of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, portfolios provide opportunities for students to practice metacognition. Miller and Morgaine explain that student reflection on work saved in portfolios can:

  • “build learners’ personal and academic identities as they complete complex projects and reflect on their capabilities and progress,
  • facilitate the integration of learning as students connect learning across courses and time,
  • be focused on developing self-assessment abilities in which students judge the quality of work using the same criteria experts use,
  • help students plan their own academic pathways as they come to understand what they know and are able to do and what they still need to learn.”

Source: Miller, Ross, and Wende Morgaine. “The Benefits of E-Portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words.” Peer Review, Winter 2009.

What is Portfolium?

Portfolium is the name of the online platform on Canvas (Jefferson’s learning management system) that hosts the Hallmarks Pathway. When you upload your artifacts and reflective essays to the Hallmarks Pathway, a copy of your work is added to your personal Profile in the Portfolium section of Canvas. By the end of your time of study at Jefferson, 16 or more of your artifacts and corresponding reflective essays will be collected here, giving you a gallery or time capsule of your educational highlights.

What are the requirements of the Hallmarks Pathway?

A completed Hallmarks Pathway has 16 artifacts, each accompanied by a short reflective essay. You can post artifacts from three different categories of your Jefferson education (work from the Hallmarks Core, work in your major, and documentation of your co-curricular experiences). Your Hallmarks Pathway is complete when you have posted artifacts and accompanying reflective essays for each learning goal in at least two of these categories (for a total of 16 items). 

How do I know what to include in my Hallmarks Pathway?

Each course in the Hallmarks Core is designed to produce an artifact for one or more of the eight different Hallmarks learning goals, so you will have multiple options for selecting which work you want to post in the Hallmarks Pathway for each learning goal. In addition, the directors of your major have submitted a curriculum map that identifies eight places in that curriculum where each of the outcomes will be addressed in work that you can use as an artifact. You can consider this map as a starting point, but you always have the option of using materials from courses that aren't designated on the map, as long as you can indicate how they are related to the selected learning goal.

The third category of artifacts can come from experiences that you’ve had in your co-curriculum (experiences like study abroad, internships or student organizations). As you move through the curriculum, you will get advice and feedback on the state of your Hallmarks Pathway from the instructors in your touchstone courses.

Can the same artifact be used for more than one learning goal?

A completed Hallmarks Pathway should have 16 separate and unique artifacts, showing the full spectrum of your learning experience. You can post more than one assignment from the same course in different parts of the Hallmarks Pathway, but you can’t post the same assignment twice.

Can I remove or replace items in my Hallmarks Pathway?

Yes, as you move through your Jefferson education, you will have the option of replacing items that you posted earlier in the Hallmarks Pathway with new items for the same category. You may find that you want to do this if you produce new work that is stronger or more relevant to one of the learning goals..

Is a completed Hallmarks Pathway a requirement for graduation?

A fully completed Hallmarks Pathway is not a graduation requirement, but you must pass all of your touchstone courses in order to graduate. In the final touchstone course, the Capstone Folio Workshop, 30% of your grade is based entirely on the completeness of your Hallmarks Pathway.

Who sees my Hallmarks Pathway?

Your Hallmarks Pathway can only be viewed by the instructors of your touchstone courses, and by the curriculum assessment team that reviews the general student fulfillment of specific Hallmarks learning goals at the end of every academic year. However, each item that you post in the Hallmarks Pathway is duplicated in your Profile in the Portfolium section of Canvas. Those items can be set at different privacy levels, and they can also be packaged into portfolios that you can design if you want to share or showcase your work for any purpose. 

How do transfer students complete their Hallmarks Pathway?

The Hallmarks Core was designed with a special version of Writing Seminar II for transfer students. Writing Seminar II is one of the four touchstone courses, so this special version of the course is designed to help you “back fill” your Hallmarks Pathway. The instructors in this version of Writing Seminar II will work with you to identify previous courses or experiences (work, military service, community service, etc.) that can be documented in the Hallmarks Pathway to align with Hallmarks learning goals. After some of these blanks in the Hallmarks Pathway have been filled, you will be up to speed with your non-transfer classmates and you will complete your Hallmarks Pathway as you move forward through your major and the Hallmarks Core. This version of Writing Seminar II is worth four credits rather than the usual three credit hours, to reflect the extra time and attention spent on your Hallmarks Pathway .

Can I keep my Hallmarks Pathway after graduation?

Your Hallmarks Pathway is maintained on the Canvas servers and you will have access to the duplicated items in your Portfolium Profile for as long as you'd like. After you graduate, your Hallmarks Pathway will be frozen for future assessment purposes (you won't be able to revise it or add to it), but you always will be able to access the items in your Portfolium Profile. You always have the option to collect your Portfolium items into as many portfolios as you’d like after graduation.

My friend attends another school, and that school does not require Hallmarks. Is Hallmarks at Jefferson extra work?

Students seem to use the term “Hallmarks” as an umbrella term that refers to both Hallmarks Core courses and the Hallmarks Pathway process.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires that each student take 40 credit hours of general education outside of a student’s major to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. The Hallmarks Core is simply our solution for organizing those credits strategically to meet the skills needs of our pre-professional students. So, if your friend is taking courses toward the completion of a Bachelor’s Degree, then they’re also taking general education courses. Hallmarks Core courses are not “extra”: rather, like all general education courses, Hallmarks Core courses are an integral part of an undergraduate student’s course of study toward a Bachelor’s Degree.

The Hallmarks Pathway component of a Jefferson undergraduate degree is an integrated part of Hallmarks Core courses and does not add to students’ overall workload. The Hallmarks Pathway forms part of the assigned workload of Hallmarks Core courses, and it also serves as an instrument to track students’ achievement of the learning goals. By writing brief reflective essays on activities you’ve participated in and work you’ve accomplished at Jefferson, your undergraduate coursework will become less a simple set of requirements and more of a portrait of your personal and academic growth.

What is the Hallmarks Pathway for?

The Hallmarks Pathway has many potential uses both during your time at Jefferson and after you graduate. You can use the Hallmarks Pathway to:

  • Narrate your college experience. By requiring that you collect work from across your college career, you bring together courses, projects, study strategies, and moments of interaction with others that you might otherwise think of as isolated or unrelated. But, through the reflective process built into the Hallmarks Pathway, you will begin to think about your college experiences as part of a larger narrative that make you, you. Completing the Hallmarks Pathway will help you to ask and answer questions such as: what kind of learner were you when you started college? What were you worried about? What challenges did you face and overcome? How did your experiences in classes or with other students alter your sense of yourself? How did your work for one course inform your work for another?
  • Provide evidence of your ”power skills.” Skills such as collaborative creation and ethical reflection are highly sought after by employers looking to hire college graduates. These skills also happen to be among the learning goals emphasized by the Hallmarks Program and, by extension, the items in your Hallmarks Pathway. By curating these items in the Hallmarks Pathway, you develop an archive of examples to talk about when asked about how you have collaborated and exercised ethical reflection (to name just two skills). Providing evidence of your skills means you go beyond what your resume alone can describe.
  • Inspire your future work, informed by your past. Your Hallmarks Pathway represents several years of your learning, but college certainly won’t be the last time you’ll be challenged to learn new skills, strategies, or ways of thinking. By reflecting on the work you’ve done before — in college or otherwise — you help yourself understand not just what you have learned, but how you learn. Learning about yourself as a learner is one important facet of metacognition, and it can help you adapt to new challenges in your life as a professional and global citizen.

Do I have to follow the curriculum map for my major?

The Hallmarks curriculum map for your major is intended to identify courses that should include assignments that can be used to show progress in one selected learning goal. However, it's entirely possible that you will do work in other courses, either earlier or later, that you think is a better example of your ability related to that goal. If that is the case, then you are always free to post that work in your Hallmarks Pathway instead, or to replace an earlier sample of your work with a more recent sample. Your curriculum map can be considered as a starting point, marking places in your major where the Hallmarks learning goals will be routinely addressed, but you will make the final decision about which examples of your work belong in your Hallmarks Pathway under which categories.

What are co-curricular experiences and how do I know if they belong in my Hallmarks Pathway?

Co-curricular experiences are learning activities during your college career that take place outside of the classroom. Some examples of these would be study abroad, internships, participation in student organizations, community service projects, events like design sprints and Nexus Maximus, and leadership positions liking serving as a Rambassador or a resident advisor. You can document these experiences as one of the two items for each learning goal, as appropriate. Once you've decided which learning goal your co-curricular experience speaks to most directly, upload your artifact (this could be a slide show, a video, a scan of your travel journal, a flyer from an event that you helped organize, a poster from a design project, etc.) and write a reflective essay that explains why you think your experience helped you advance towards that learning goal.

What is the Hallmarks Pathway completion worksheet for?

When you take Writing II: Multimedia Communication, you will fill out the folio worksheet for (likely) the first time. You will submit the worksheet to your instructor, but you should also keep it for yourself: you’ll need to update it and refer back to it as you continue working on your Hallmarks Pathway.

The Hallmarks Pathway completion worksheet is a spreadsheet. It’s designed to help you see what reflections you still need to write and, depending on your major, which classes you’ll take in the future that will satisfy certain learning goals. To fill out the Hallmarks Pathway completion worksheet, first look at your major’s curriculum map on the Jefferson website. After you examine your major’s curriculum map, start filling in the worksheet, keeping in mind which courses you have taken already and which courses you have yet to take. 

As you fill out the worksheet, keep in mind that your major’s curriculum map is just a starting point when it comes to planning how you’ll complete your Hallmarks Pathway. You can always draw from other courses when appropriate — just remember to distinguish between work done for the Hallmarks Core, Major, and Co-Curricular categories.

When do I write the reflections? How many should I write per year?

As part of the work you complete for the four touchstone courses, you will compose a minimum of nine reflective essays between your freshman and junior years. If you do not write any additional reflective essays, you will have seven more items to upload and reflective essays to write when you take the final touchstone course (“Philosophies of the Good Life”) as a senior.

A rough timeline for your completion of all 16 reflective essays is as follows:

  1. Freshman year: two reflective essays (completed in Topics in American Studies)
  2. Sophomore year: three reflective essays (completed in Writing Seminar II: Multimedia Communication)
  3. Junior year: four reflective essays (completed in Contemporary Global Issues)
  4. Senior year: seven reflective essays (completed in Philosophies of the Good Life)

The timeline by which you complete the reflective essays may change according to individual factors such as your major’s curriculum map, if individual instructors require you to complete reflective essays for their courses, and if you had transfer credits when you began at Jefferson.

Can I write about one course more than once in my Hallmarks Pathway?

Yes. You should, however, use two different assignments from that course and explain them relative to two different learning goals. Overall, the main practice to avoid is using the same assignment for more than one learning goal, as you should aim to make the items in your Hallmarks Pathway represent the diversity and richness of your college experiences.

According to the curriculum map for my major, I need to write about certain classes that I did not and/or will not take. What do I do?

You can usefully consider the Hallmarks curriculum map for your major as a "recommendation." This means that:

  • If you won’t take the exact course that your curriculum map references, you should choose to write about work from another course in the same category (Major or Hallmarks Core) to substitute.
  • You can depart from the map if you want to use work from other courses to address a certain learning goal.
  • You can always replace earlier artifacts with more recent work if you think such work is more suitable to addressing the learning goal in question.

What if I switched majors? How do I complete the Hallmarks Pathway then?

You can mix work from different majors if you’ve switched majors. The important thing is that you are tracking your skill development over the course of your university education regardless of your major.

What if I don’t have an artifact from a particular course?

If you didn’t save any of the work done for a particular class that you’d like to write a reflection on, consider these ideas:

  • Check if you can still access the course on Canvas. If you can, you should be able to re-download your work.   
  • Reach out to your instructor. Often, instructors have access to materials you uploaded to Canvas even after students lose access. They can often retrieve work for you.
  • Provide a representation of the work you did for the class to upload into your Hallmarks Pathway. For example, if you want to write about a quiz you took, try your best to reproduce the quiz visually, and upload a photo of that reproduction as your artifact. If you want to write about an interaction between you and a classmate, have a friend photograph you interacting with someone in a similar way, then upload that photo as your artifact. Since you want to be able to represent and refer to specific work in your reflective essays, having even a substitute artifact is important.
  • Use a co-curricular experience as your second artifact for that particular learning goal.

In future courses, remember to save all of your work. You may want to refer back to it later!

I’m a _____________________ major. Won’t my major classes teach me all that I need to know? Why do I need the Hallmarks Program anyway?

The first thing to remember about the Hallmarks Program is that the director of your program helped craft the Hallmarks learning goals that you master in both your Hallmarks Core and major classes. In other words, these learning goals are not just an important part of the general education curriculum at Jefferson: they’re an essential part of what it means to be a professional in your field, too!

Second, remember that, to succeed in today’s extremely competitive workforce, a technical education alone isn’t enough. You may have expertise in particular software or familiarity with specialized terms exercised by professionals in your field, but you need a balanced, well-rounded education in order to help you apply that expertise and familiarity in ways that are flexible, critical, ethical, and culturally sensitive. In other words, technical education is only one part of what it means to be a professional. The other, essential part is knowing how to think, communicate, and respond to never-before-seen challenges, and that’s where general education comes in. You can also think of the Hallmarks “power skills” as the most enduring and adaptable capabilities that you gain as a college student. They can empower you to advance to higher levels of leadership in your field and adapt to professional changes.

But, don’t take our word for it! Look at the educational research if you want to know more. For example, researchers have examined the relationship between the kinds of skills prioritized in the Hallmarks General Education curriculum and the priorities of employers. Here’s a key takeaway from that research: in a survey of 318 employers (including private sector and nonprofit executives such as owners, CEOs, and presidents), those employers overwhelmingly (93%) agreed that 

A job candidate’s “‘demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.’ More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning. More than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes, including critical thinking, complex problem solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.”

Source: Hart Research Associates. “It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success.” Liberal Education 99, no. 2 (Spring 2013).

I’m a freshman enrolled in Writing Seminar II: Multimedia Communication. How am I supposed to fulfill the Hallmarks Pathway requirements?

We can only expect you to include work for courses that they’ve already taken. You won’t have much to include during your first semester, and that’s okay: you will catch up later when you take Contemporary Global Issues. 

In Writing Seminar II, however, you can upload work from Writing 2 for the Hallmarks Pathway. If you are taking any other courses on the curriculum map, try to include that work, too, if you complete it in time. You can also consider including work from courses that aren’t listed on your map if you notice that they address one of the learning goals. Make sure to tell your Writing Seminar II instructor so that they know how you’re having to approach the Hallmarks Pathway this semester.

How is my Hallmarks Pathway graded?

In each of the four touchstone courses, you will receive a grade for both the individual reflective essays that you write during that course and the progress you’ve made on your Hallmarks Pathway as a whole. When you upload a new item, your touchstone instructor will review the posting and then accept it as meeting the standards for a Hallmarks Pathway requirement, or ask you to revise or change it to meet the standards. The grades you receive on your reflective essays and on your progress in Hallmarks Pathway will be incorporated into your overall grade for those courses. You must receive a passing grade in each of the touchstone courses in order to graduate, just like any other required course.

I don’t understand what [blank] course has to do with [blank] learning goal. How can I make sense of what I’m supposed to reflect on?

Check out the extended definitions of what each of the learning goals mean. If you read these extended definitions, you’re likely to discover that the learning goal you need to write about can be described and referred to in a way that is more representative of your class work than you first thought.

I heard a rumor that the Hallmarks Program is going away. Is this true?

No. The Hallmarks Program is how Jefferson meets the minimum of 40 credits of general education required for any Bachelor’s Degree awarded in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This curriculum for general education has been sequenced into every 4 or 5-year undergraduate major at Jefferson and cannot be removed without a similar replacement.